Indy hosts mega meetup for Pokemon Go 

An interview with the mastermind behind the Pokemon Go meetup that requires its own permit

click to enlarge Pokemon love NUVO - BRIAN WEISS
  • Pokemon love NUVO
  • Brian Weiss
Pokemon Go, the recent app from Nintendo and Niantic, has absolutely exploded in popularity since it’s release. It garnered 7.5 million downloads in its first week according to USA Today.

Everywhere you go, there are people walking by, phones in hand, theme music thrumming as they go.

In fact, Pokemon seekers have become such a common sight that business across Indianapolis, and the country, have started hosting events and giving offering specials around Pokemon hot spots.

Recently, Jake Waddell organized a small get together with a few friends to play the game. Within a few days however, after those friends contacted friends who contacted friends etc, the meetup had snowballed into an event of roughly 2,000 people meeting at White River State Park for the exclusive reason of tracking down digital creatures to keep on their phones.
click to enlarge Don't sleep on this event, Drowzee - BRIAN WEISS
  • Don't sleep on this event, Drowzee
  • Brian Weiss


The event has gotten so big in fact that it’s needed to get a permit for such a large public gathering, and has gotten the support of Sprint to help keep phones going. Extra life, a gaming charity organization has also been enlisted to ensure things go smoothly. What started as a simple meetup between friends has become an enormous event.

“It’s really shown me the meaning of community,” says Waddell. “It’s bringing people together, and not just gamers. People in their forties, young kids, everyone.”

This is especially poignant considering the toxicity present in gaming culture over the last few years. Pokemon Go seems to be serving as a great counterpoint to that, bringing joy instead of conflict.

He cited the games positive effects on social interaction, and how it’s encouraged people not only to interact face to face more, but to get out of the house and be active.

“As a gamer you spend a lot of time sitting down,” says Waddell. “With Pokemon Go, you take a walk and suddenly you’re meeting a lot of new people.”

Waddell conceded that while the game has had an enormously positive impact, there are improvements that could be made to improve the game, and ensure that it’s more than passing fad.

“The servers definitely need to be fixed, there’s only one,” he said, referencing the apps tendency to crash frequently and require reloading. “They need to add trading and proper battles if it’s going to last as an app.”

Apart from meeting to catch and talk Pokemon, the meet up also seeks to do some good. Participants will be encouraged to use the Charity Miles App, an app that donates to charities for miles run and or biked. 

Something that Waddell was very firm about was his desire for the park to be left the way it was found.

“We’re here to have a good time, but we want to respect the park and in the process,” says Waddell.

click to enlarge Don't be a Weedle, attend this event - BRIAN WEISS
  • Don't be a Weedle, attend this event
  • Brian Weiss


Overall the event, and others like it that have sprung up since the apps release, represent a massive cultural phenomenon that hasn’t been seen since the peak of Pokemania during the nineties and early 2000’s, bringing together people across generations.

“It’s people of all ages, old fans, new fans, a bit of everyone,” says Waddell.

That’s not something that happens often, and it’s a credit to the power of the Pokemon franchise that it’s been able to have such an impact even two decades into its existence.

The event kicks off at noon on Saturday July 23rd, and will run to 10pm. 

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